Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 14 July 1926


Senator CHAPMAN (South Australia) . - Although this is merely a machinery measure, the fact that it deals with the problem of developing Australia, makes it one of the most important that we are likely to be called upon to consider. No scheme for the development of a country can be put into operation without the necessary financial provision, or without a sufficient supply of human energy to enable industries, once they are established, to be carried on. The problems of development, finance, and immigration are, therefore, interwoven, and I am fully in accord with the policy of the Government as outlined in this bill to proceed with development and immigration side by side. I can understand the Labour party objecting to indiscriminate immigration, but I cannot understand it objecting to a policy of development which is bound to provide a considerable amount of employment for the workers of Australia. Water schemes, railway and road construction, the erection of schools and similar works, which must be taken in hand immediately to bring about the necessary development, most assuredly must absorb a large amount of labour. It has been claimed that the migration agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the British Government is of special advantage to Great Britain. The Prime Minister ("Mr. Bruce) has told us that when he was in England there were 1,500,000 unemployed. That number, I understand, has since been considerably increased. We have also been informed that in doles of various descriptions the British Government has paid over £300,000,000 in about five years. Unquestionably England is faced with a most acute economic problem which has developed into a political problem, and one can readily understand the British Government being agreeable to the transportation of some of its unemployed to the dominions. To my mind, it is a wise policy to keep these Britishers within the Empire. While England is faced with this temporary difficulty, is there anything wrong with a policy for transporting some of its people^ to a country like Australia, which is crying out for more population, particularly when the British Government is prepared to give us financial assist ance? The safety of Australia and, indeed, of the Empire depends upon the maintenance of this Imperial sentiment, and Imperial sentiment will be fostered by the migration of Britishers to the dominions. We hear much of tho danger of war, concerning which there is a wide divergence of opinion. On the one hand we have those who say that Australia is in danger of invasion at any moment, while on the other there is a public opinion that scouts the very idea of war. It was only Britain's preparedness and the might of the British Navy that saved Australia from invasion during the great war. Our security is wrapped up with that of the rest., of the Empire. Lack of population is one of our great weaknesses, and here we have a chance to remedy it. Even if we are to be controlled in the future by a court pf international law, it is . necessary that Australia should be peopled and developed. One of our representatives at the last Assembly of the League of Nations said, on his return to Australia recently, that he had sensed an unmistakeable desire on the part of representatives of other nations to lift the question' of immigration from the domestic to the higher plane of international politics. The Labour party strongly supports the policy of a White Australia, but at a recent international Labour conference in Great Britain a large number of Labour delegates, including a majority of the British Labour delegates, strongly criticized that policy. We had the first international attack upon our White Australia policy from the Labour, delegates there assembled, and it seems strange that the Labour party in Australia will not endeavour to meet some of the complaints against that policy by supporting these proposals. The greatest argument against our White Australia policy is that a mere handful of people is controlling this vast continent and is not making the best use of it. Although this bill embodies definite attempts to remedy the present defects, some of the leaders of the Labour movement in Australia are opposing it, Under the agreement, it is proposed to expend £34,000,000, and in view of the losses which have been incurred in connexion with developmental works generally, this proposal should be critically examined. The Government has said that it is necessary to appoint some body to carefully scrutinize the various schemes submitted by the States, as it is impossible for a Minister or the Cabinet to devote to their examination the necessary time to determine whether or not they are likely to be a success. I agree that it is necessary that some properlyconstituted authority should fully examine developmental proposals. I am somewhat exercised in my mind as to the extent to which the Parliament will have control over the commission when it is appointed. I understand, however, that the expenditure will have to be approved by Parliament. Under clause 14 of the bill, the Government may not approve of any undertaking which has not been recommended by the commission. That is a wise provision, since under sub-clause 2, which provides that the Commonwealth may approve of any such undertaking or scheme to which each House of Parliament, by resolution, approves, the Parliament will have supreme control. Clause 18 provides that the commission shall once in every year present to the Minister a report upon its work during the preceding twelve months; but more frequent reports should, I think, be submitted. Sub-clause 2 of clause 18 sets out that the Minister shall cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of Parliament, within 30 days after receipt thereof, if Parliament is sitting, and, if Parliament is not sitting, within 30 days after the next sitting of Parliament. I understand that interim reports will be made to the Minister, but some method of keeping Parliament in closer touch with the work of the commission should be devised. The interim reports submitted to the Minister should also be tabled in Parliament. If a State scheme were rejected by the commission, there would doubtless be an outcry on the part of the people of that State, and honorable senators should be able to obtain promptly the fullest particulars to enable them to reply to the criticisms of their constituents. The commission will operate under the agreement entered into in 1925 between the Secretary of State for the Dominions and the Commonwealth Government, so that in passing this measure we shall practically ratify that agreement. Certain concessions are to be made by the British Government provided the conditions of the agreement, with the spirit of which I am in entire accord, are complied with. I approve of the proposal to inquire into the possibility of establishing new industries, but I have very grave doubts as to whether some of the clauses in the agreement will not defeat the objective which the contracting parties have in view. I refer to the clauses dealing with land settlement. Clause 1k of the agreement deals with the settlement of persons upon farms. Paragraph a of clause 6 of that agreement reads -

For every principal sura of £1,000 issued to a State Government in connexion with agreed undertakings for the settlement of persons upon farms the State Government shall provide one new farm.

One thousand pounds is not much with which to settle a man upon a farm.


Senator Hoare - Is it possible to do so with that sum?


Senator CHAPMAN - In new country, where land costs practically nothing, many men who started with less than £1,000 have been successful; but where land has to be repurchased its cost alone may exceed that amount. In such cases £2,000 or £3,000 is necessary to start a man on a satisfactory basis. It must be remembered that any expenditure in excess of £1,000 will have to be met by the State Governments, the British Government giving no assistance, and accepting no liability therefor. Paragraph b of clause 6 of the agreement reads -

Within twelve months of the issue of the said principal sum to the State concerned, one assisted migrant family, consisting on the average of five persons without capital, shall sail direct from the United Kingdom to the State concerned, and shall bo received into and satisfactorily settled in that State.

Although the clause is somewhat ambiguous, it would appear from clause 1 k that that means that those families must be settled on the land. Paragraph c reads -

At least one-half of the new farms provided by the State Government shall be allocated to assisted migrants who have sailed from the United Kingdom since the 1st day of June, 1922, and have not been resident in Australia for a period of more than live years at the date of allocation.

I do not think that those who drafted the agreement realized the effect of that paragraph. They seem to have had the idea that in Australia there are numbers of nice farms available for Britishers. I have had considerable experience in land settlement. One third of the wheat produced in South Australia is grown in mallee country, from which fifteen or twenty years ago not one bushel of wheat was obtained. I have watched the progress of those districts, and seen the success which has attended different settlers there. While one has made good, his neighbour frequently has failed.


Senator Reid - It is the same everywhere.


Senator CHAPMAN - Quite so. I want, however, to guard against failures. The agreement provides for the settlement of families, withan average of five persons, without capital. In South Australia it has generally been the experienced men - sons of farmers with many years' experience on the land, or men who have saved a few hundred pounds in order to get a start - who have been successful. An inexperienced man taking up land is severely handicapped. He does not know the time to burn the scrub, or the kind of day most suitable, whereas an experienced man gets a much better burn, and, as a result, reaps probably 2 or 3 bushels more to the acre. Those additional 2 or 3 bushels may mean the difference between success and failure. In order to ensure success, men must be hard workers, willing to battle against privations. They cannot afford to make mistakes. Most inexperienced men work their land insufficiently. Some, however, work it too much, with the result that it runs together, and in the hot weather the crop is scorched. A man without farming experience will probably sow his seed during a dry spell, and, because of the grain malting, suffer severe loss. In the pickling ofwheat, also, experience tells. Wheat insufficiently pickled produces smut, whereas over-pickling may result in the wheat not germinating properly, because some of the grain will be killed. Because of the technicalities associated with wheat-growing, the inexperienced man cannot hope to attain the same results as his more experienced neighbour. I say, advisedly, that unless we place thoroughly experienced men on these farms we shall be courting disaster. Even if we obtained a number of experienced farmers from England - which I do not expect - they would require to become accustomed to Australian conditions. Farming in England is very different from farming in Australia. It may be possible to train unmarried men by placing them with Australian farmers. That is the best and cheapest method of training them. But there is very little demand on Australian farms for inexperienced married men. In the first place, Australian farmers usually have insufficient accommodation for married men with their families. It is practically impossible to train English migrants, with families, to Australian conditions. The Governments of the States are being called upon to meet not only the capital cost of the farms, but also a proportion of the cost of training migrants. I have here the report of the British Oversea Settlement Delegation to Australia. On page 54 we find this statement in the report -

Again, to start farming under present-day conditions, a considerable amount of capital must be available, and we feel that, as a general rule, it is but fair to require the' settler to recognize his responsibilities by providing a proportion of the capital himself. Thefact that his own resources are engaged in the venture will give him an additional incentive to carry it through to success. Where a man has nothing of his own to lose, the temptation to withdraw under the discouragement of initial difficulties often proves too strong.


Senator Mclachlan - And it is the man without capital who is to be brought out to Australia.


Senator CHAPMAN - Yes, and under the agreement each assisted migrant family must consist of five persons. We have settled a great number of people on the land in South Australia, but, in every instance, we endeavoured to ensure that the settler had some capital of his own. Even in those circumstances, the State was obliged to write off a considerable amount of the loss that was incurred. In view of our experience in South Australia, I submit that we shall be taking a great financial risk if we attempt, as is proposed under this agreement to settle inexperienced British migrants without capital on the land. I believe that millions of acres of suitable land are still available in Australia. I believe, also, that we have in Australia a sufficient number of experienced men with, at least, some capital to take up' and develop the whole of the country that can be made available. In my opinion, it would be better to give these men the opportunity to do so, and by further developing our primary industries in this way to open up to British migrants other avenues of profitable employment, in which many of them are already trained. I understand that the agreement may be varied in certain respects, and I submit that this phase of the migration problem should receive careful consideration in order to ensure the successful settlement of new agricultural areas in Australia. I should like now to deal briefly with the subject of boy migrants. Some years ago, in South Australia, the Barwell Government launched a scheme - the principle of which has been adopted by some of the other States - for the introduction of boy migrants from the Mother Country. The lads were placed with approved farmers for training in farm practice, and received a certain wage, portion of which was paid direct to the boys as pocket money, and the balance held in trust for them until they reached the age of 21 years. It was further provided that, after a lad had received a sound training in farm methods, he should be entitled to obtain from the State a loan of £300 with which to start farming on his own account. The sum, as honorable senators will admit, was very small. The point I wish now to emphasize is that under this agreement at least one half of the new farms to be provided by a State Government must be allocated to assisted migrants who sailed from the "United Kingdom after the first day of June, 1922, and who, at the date of allocation, had not been resident in Australia for a period of more than five years. This provision appears to cut out the boys who arrived in Australia, under the Barwell scheme, after the 1st of June, 1922. I fail to understand why they should be cut out; they will have had more than five years' training, and, therefore, should be well qualified for inclusion in this new scheme. It is very desirable, I think, that some of these lads should be included in the quota of 50 per cent, of British migrants to be settled on the land. I hope, therefore, that the scheme will be so amended as to include them. I cordially approve of this great national policy of immigration, which, I feel sure, has the endorsement of the people of Australia. We are faced with a huge non-productive debt of some £400,000,000. Obviously, if we are to reduce that debt and the interest per head, we must increase our population. Our defence expenditure will be the same whether we have a population of 6,000,000 or 12,000,000. If we can double our population, we shall very materially reduce our per capita expenditure on defence; and also solve many other problems. I believe that the Migration Commission has a splendid, and, in fact,, a unique opportunity to do great work for Australia. Under a proper system of development, many thousands of acres of new lands will be opened up successfully, our cities and towns will develop and prosper, our prestige will be enhanced, and our national safety assured.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL (South Australia) [3.39].- I cannot allow this bill to pass without offering some Comment. I have given a great deal of attention to migration schemes. The right honorable the Minister (Senator Pearce), when introducing the bill, stressed the importance of migration, and said that the eyes of the world were on us to see what we were going to do with our country. I also stress that phase of the question. Migration is a subject of importance, not only to Australia, but also to the Empire as a whole. Australia is a. vast territory of undeveloped resources, and with a populationcarrying capacity which is almost illimitable. If we are to hold this great heritage for ourselves and the Empire, we must make reasonable progress in the business of populating and developing it. We may take it for granted that mankind, in the aggregate, will never agree to the proposition that a territory as vast and as rich as Australia can be held by a mere handful of people only partially developed, for any great length of time. Already, the density of population in other parts of the world, compared with Australia, creates a danger that ought not to be overlooked. The density of population in' Great Britain is more than 200 times as great as that of Australia ; in the whole of Europe it is 60 times as great ; in Asia, it is 30 times as great; and over the whole of the earth's surface the proportion is as 16 to

1.   In Japan, there are 150 persons to every square mile, compared with one in Australia. Our White Australia policy "undoubtedly creates a further element of danger. Our claim to the right to maintain a policy of exclusion may, at any time, be challenged and contested before the League of Nations. If it is, Great Britain and Australia will experience great difficulty in justifying it in the absence of reasonable occupation and development. I invite honorable senators to consider this aspect for a moment. What would be our position if that. claim were contested, and, in default of an agreement being arrived at, submitted for settlement to the International Court? Is any one foolish enough to believe that it would receive the support of the over-populated countries of the world ? If it did not, and the decision went against us, what would be the position of Great. Britain ?

Nocountry took a larger part than Great Britain in the setting up of that court for the peaceful settlement of international disputes. If the policy of a White Australia were referred, for settlement, to that international court, and the overpopulated countries of the world declined to support our claim, we should either have to submit to the finding or turn traitor and cut ourselves adrift from the League of Nations. Those are not pleasing alternatives. I am not for a moment speaking against the White Australia policy, although I have no doubt that some of my friends of the Labour party will say that I am. I say again, as I have repeatedly said, that I believe in populating Australia, as far as possible, with white people. The point that I am making is that if we wish to maintain our White Australia policy, and justify our claim to the right to exclude coloured people, we must do our duty by populating and developing Australia. I mention this aspect of the matter merely in order to show that the question is of vital importance from an Empire point of view. We are apt to forget, and even to entirely overlook, the tremendous responsibility which our lack of enthusiasm in regard' to migration, combined with our White Australia policy, places upon the Mother Country, as the foremost member of the League of Nations. The peril which 'our attitude towards migration entails, is constantly being referred to in the Old Country. Only a few days ago, at a labour conference, which was held in England, we were adversely criticized by members of the Labour party on this account. That the Imperial Government is alive to the seriousness of the position is evidenced by its readiness to provide £34,000,000, at low rates of interest, to assist migration to Australia. That money will be received at special rates of interest for only ten years; ultimately, the full rate of interest will have to be paid. That undoubtedly places upon us the obligation of seeing that the money is wisely spent in developmental and reproductive work. Other portions of the Empire have shown, from time to time, that they regard this matter of populating and developing Australia as one which touches the very foundations of Empire unity. Strangely enough, it is in Australia alone that apathy is displayed towards it. It is in Australia alone that there seems to be no proper conception of its vital nature. I have had a good deal to do with migration, aud I realize fully the difficulties which stand in the way of a satisfactory solution of the problem; but I also know that for the most part those difficulties are by no means insuperable. It is quite true - and here I agree with members of the Labour party, although I think they go further than I do--that we cannotopen the floodgates and allow an unlimited stream of migrants to enter Australia, even though they be eminently suitable in regard to race, health and character. Our powers of absorption are undoubtedly limited. The artificial restrictions that we have placed upon production in Australia limit the possibility of expansion in our secondary industries, because they make it impossible to export our surplus manufactures to any appreciable extent. I admit that the greater our population, the greater our home market. But the point. I want to make at present is that, to all intents and purposes, our manufacturing possibilities are limited to our home market; hence a very real restriction upon expansion in that direction, and also upon our ability to absorb migrants. Here is where I disagree with the members of the Labour party: Those restrictions notwithstanding, a great deal can be done to absorb desirable migrants, and we should act to the limit of our powers. Every newcomer who is satisfactorily settled in Australia adds not only to our wealth, but also to our security. We should undoubtedly arrive at a decision quickly as to what is reasonably possible in the immediate future in the direction of the satisfactory settlement of desirable migrants. Some well-defined, wellthought out, well-organized plan should be devised for establishing and maintaining a steady stream of migrants. It is essential that proper arrangements be made for their reception and absorption upon arrival. Those arrangements should be made in advance. The statement made by many members of the Labour party that it is madness to bring people to Australia unless arrangements are made beforehand for their accommodation and employment is quite right. Speaking with some knowledge of the subject, gained when I was in Great Britain in 1922, I can say that there are tens of thousands of splendid people in the United Kingdom anxious to come to Australia, but until they know that there is some definite assurance of a welcome and of housing and employment for them, on their arrival they are afraid of making the venture. Who can blame them? We ought not to ask them to come here until we are ready to receive and house them, and give them work. One of the first questions that crops up - I think it was mentioned by Senator Needham - is what immigrants should we bring to Australia? I think that every one who is in favour of ian mi'gration will agree that preference should be given to migrants from the Old Country. The over-population of Great Britain at the present time is such that many of its people must migrate in the near future, and it is the duty of the dominions of the Empire to see that no appreciable proportion of these people is lost to the Empire. I was very glad to hear Senator Needham say that above all things we need to maintain the manpower of the Empire ; but J should carry that statement further, and say that, in order to strengthen the Empire as a whole, we should have a proper distribution of that man-power. In the proper distribution of the man-power of the Empire Australia certainly has its part to play. We have the space and the ability to absorb a very large number of British emigrants. The next question is - what class or classes of British migrants should we assist to Australia? Personally, I think that we could take some of all classes, but particularly do I think we should take young people - boys and girls. Some Australians do not think it is desirable to bring young people to this country; but in this connexion I should like to point to the report of the British Oversea Settlement Delegation to Australia, published in May, 1924. It speaks very strongly on this subject, saying -

We have 'been very much impressed and encouraged by what we saw of the work of the three main schemes of boy immigration.

Those were the South Australian scheme, the New South Wales scheme, and the Queensland scheme. The report goes on to say -

There is no doubt that youth is a great asset for any migrant to a new country. Boys will naturally adapt themselves more readily to new conditions than men, whose character, tastes, and habits are already formed. Further, we consider that if regard is had to the average prospects open to such boys as these in Great Britain, the* opportunity offered to them in Australia is a remarkable one. They are learning a highly skilled occupation, and at the same time accustoming themselves to the conditions of the country. They will emerge from their apprenticeship with a thorough practical experience of farm work, and by the time that they are old enough to take up land of their own. they should be financially in a position to do so. We could not but be impressed, too, with the readiness with which boys from urban areas took to a country life, and the satisfaction which they found in it.

We feel, however, that the migration of boys to Australia ought to be confined to definite schemes of training or apprenticeship such as those described above, and we very much hope that any further demands for migrants from this source which may be put forward, will be accompanied by provisions and safeguards on the lines which have already proved so successful.

In South Australia we inaugurated and carried into effect a scheme for bringing boys to Australia, and, as Senator Chapman has said, it proved very successful. Boys between fifteen and eighteen years of age came out for apprenticeship as farm labourers, and there were many features in the scheme of an extremely desirable character. The scheme itself was fully referred to by the British Oversea Settlement Delegation, which reported very favorably upon it. Under it in less than two years 1,444 boys were brought out to South Australia, and over 90 per cent of them tire doing well to-day. It is quite true, that some of the boys have gone away from their original jobs on farms; but they have become absorbed in the life of the State, and have proved very desirable immigrants. Unfortunately, the scheme was abandoned by the Labour Government as soon as it came into office, but had the Liberals retained office, by now there would have been about 3,000 boys brought out under that scheme. Mr. Wignall, a Labour member of the House of Commons, who was one of the British delegation, went to a great deal of trouble to ascertain how that scheme was working. He went all through the country, and on his return to Adelaide told me that, although he had seen between 500 and 600 boys, there were only three or four cases in which complaints were made. These complaints were of a trivial nature, which could be, and were, fixed up immediately they were brought under the notice of the authorities. Although Mr. Wignall had been in touch with the members of lie Labour party in South Australia who were opposed to the scheme, he made the statement, which was published in the press, that it was the most successful immigration scheme that had been put forward. He was strongly in favour of the emigration of British boys to Australia. I mention this matter because I intend to show that it is possible to bring a large number of immigrants, boys, girls, and families, to Australia at little cost and with little trouble, and without going in for expensive land schemes or setting up costly institutions. However, the operation of the boy scheme illustrates what I intend to say in regard to the matter. The boys brought out under the South Australian scheme were placed with approved farmers who requisitioned for their services before their arrival. The result was, when the boys arrived at Port Adelaide, they went direct from the steamers to their new homes in the country districts. Had similar schemes been in operation in all the States of Australia, we might easily have taken from 8,000 to 10,000 boys a year. It is a matter of common knowledge that the lack of domestic servants in Australia is having a. very serious effect upon the economic life of the community. I think it is one of the great causes of the low birth-rate in Australia. What is possible with a scheme for bringing out boys should also be possible with a scheme for bringing out girls for domestic service. It should also be possible to bring out a large number of families without having any costly machinery or land-settlement schemes. In this connexion the Government might seek the co-operation of such institutions as the Young Men's Christian Association, the churches generally, Masonic lodges, Rotary clubs, and various other institutions interested in migration both here and in Great Britain. All these bodies I have mentioned are willing to give their active support to such a movement. The churches, for instance, have their organizations spread throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Their various congregations know the requirements and the possibilities of absorption of immigrants in their particular localities. Many congregations could very well nominate two or three or more families, or it might be merely one family a year, but all could do something to assist in the carrying out of such a scheme. When I was in office in South Australia, I convened a conference of representatives of all the churches in the State, and I outlined to them a scheme similar to that which I have just mentioned. My suggestion was most enthusiastically received by the sixteen denominations represented. All of them promised their support, and some immediately set to work to establish machinery for giving effect to the scheme-; but, unfortunately, the advent of the Labour Government put an end to their activities. The first person to introduce the system of group nomination migration from Great Britain to Australia to the churches of this country was Mr. Cyril Bavin, general secretary of the British National Council of the Young Men's Christian Association, which body had commissioned him to come to Australia as a representative of the churches in Great Britain to make arrangements to carry out a scheme which had commended itself to them. Among their adherents the churches have many young people who are anxious to emigrate to Australia, but the clergymen advise them not to give up their present positions or leave their present homes until there is some definite assurance that in Australia they will be welcomed, as well as accommodated in homes and provided with work. For the sake of their growing families, these sons and daughters of the churches in the Old Country are open to an approach such as this scheme makes possible. And surely it ought to commend itself to us in Australia. We badly need more people to populate our sparsely populated areas. I agree with the Minister (Senator Pearce) that we want the best we can get. If the churches take a hand in the choice of Australia's new-comers, then the level of the incoming citizenship is likely to be raised, the process of assimilation is likely to be facilitated, and any possible cause of local friction -will be removed. The responsibility upon the churches or the other organizations which may take up such schemes as this is that of advising their country congregations to nominate one or more families in a year, and to indicate by a detailed statement the class and type of persons they are able to absorb in their midst. Each nomination, of course, would go through the approved church and ' Government channels to the representatives of each in_ the Old Country. The church sending in a nomination would be expected to guarantee the newcomer a job and suitable accommodation for himself and his family if he had one. That scheme has already been proposed by the churches in Great Britain, and the churches in Australia are prepared to co-operate. The Young Men's Christian Association has .been selected by the churches in Great Britain as the one agency through which all denominnations may be approached without prejudice. I strongly urge the Government to adopt a scheme such as this wherever it may secure the co-operation of a State Government. Of course nothing can be done without the cooperation of each State, but it is a scheme from which I am sure very good results would undoubtedly flow. It only needs organization both here and in the Old Country, but that organization should be quite a simple matter. I have mentioned three schemes - boy immigration, girl immigration, and family immigration. There is a fourth, which, perhaps, should have been mentioned first, that of the ordinary individual nomination system which is now the main channel of immigration to Australia. Schemes, for the nomination of individuals, of boys and girls, and of families, are the best that can be devised, as they are easily controlled and entail very little responsibility upon the Government. In each case the nominator is" in Australia, and is ready to welcome the newcomer, and to provide the migrant with accommodation and employment. On arrival, nominated migrants can proceed direct from the steamer to their new homes which, in nearly all cases, are in the country. Under such schemes, there1 is no dislocation of industry, and unemployment does not follow their inauguration. Honorable senators have referred to the undesirability of bringing migrants to Australia while there are already large numbers of unemployed here.


Senator Needham - That is the intention.


Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL - It is not. Surely honorable senators opposite admit that migrants can be absorbed in Australia. If it were intended to enter into a scheme the result of which would be to increase unemployment, I should not support it for a moment. It is quite possible to absorb a large number of migrants without increasing the number of our unemployed.


Senator Needham - It cannot be done in this way.


Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL - There are certain provisions of the agreement . of which I do not approve, and which I hope will be amended. One was mentioned by Senator Chapman. This agreement, likeothers which have been suggested in thepast, places too much importance upon land settlement. At a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in 1923, I introduced a resolution, which was later agreed to, asking the Prime Minister to suggest to the Imperial Government that it should not be compulsory for migrants to settle upon the land. It would be a far better proposition to allow our own people, acquainted with the conditions of rural work, to settle upon the land, and to arrange for their places to be taken by migrants.


Senator McHugh - What would be the advantage of placing additional settlers on the land when many of the returned soldiers, who have been financially assisted, are unable to make a success of their operations on it?


Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL - Their failure - where there has been failure - is, to some extent, due to the fact that many of them were unaccustomed to rural work. It has been a case of placing round pegs in square holes.


Senator McHugh - The South Australian Government, of which the honorable senator was the leader, was responsible for placing men on the river Murray lands, the capital value of which has been written off to the extent of £2,000,000.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL.That has been the experience of all the States, particularly of New South Wales and Victoria. It was the Vaughan administration which preceded the government of which I was the leader, that was responsible for the policy of placing a large number of returned soldiers upon the river Murray lands. The honorable senator's interjection illustrates how useless it is to endeavour to settle inexperienced men on the land.


Senator Graham - That will be the result of this scheme.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL.Yes, it may be, and it is a feature of the agreement of which I do not approve. If we could receive the necessary financial assistance from Great Britain, it would be preferable to place our own people on the land and allow migrants to follow the work to which they are accustomed.


Senator Chapman - That would assist in making the scheme a success.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL.Yes. It is pure folly to stress land settlement in agreements of this kind. Land settlement should not be made a feature of the proposals. At the meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers to which I have referred, I succeeded in carrying a resolution that the Imperial Government should be approached for assistance on the understanding that we absorbed a certain number of migrants who need not necessarily be settled on the land. All the States agreed to the resolution, which the Prime Minister undertook to submit to the Imperial Government. It is foolish to force migrants unaccustomed to farm work to take up land, particularly when there are sons of farmers in Australia waiting to do so.


Senator Kingsmill - Most of them wish to live in the cities and towns.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL.Some do, but there are others who want land and cannot get it. Under the nomination schemes I have mentioned there is no necessity to formulate land settlement proposals, as the migrants could be absorbed in a natural way. The duties and responsibilities of the Government would be to establish and maintain in Australia and in Great Britain migration departments, _ to formulate and conduct schemes, enter upon publicity campaigns, receive nominations, and to be satisfied in regard to the bona fides of the nominators and their ability to provide accommodation and work for the nominees. Its officers would also have to be satisfied concerning the suitability of the nominees, and would make arrangements for their transport and financial assistance, and for their welcome by migration officers and nominators. Arrangements would also have to be made for accommodation of migrants at the ports of disembarkation, and for their transport to the country. In the case of boy and girl migrants, periodical inspection would be necessary. If these simple and satisfactory methods were adopted, there would be no necessity to set up elaborate migration machinery. The powers of the commission extend, of course, beyond migration. In the matter of migration the Commonwealth cannot do anything unless at the request of the States which have their migration departments.


Senator Foll - Are the Commonwealth and State departments not already amalgamated ?

Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.No. At present the Commonwealth and the States are co-operating. It is the duty of the States to submit requisitions to the Commonwealth, which undertakes to select migrants in the Old Country, to provide financial assistance to cover the cost of transport to Australia, and then to hand over the migrants to the States at the ports of disembarkation. It is the. responsibility of the States to see that the migrants are properly placed. Whilst Labour is in power in the States, migration will, I think, be stringently restricted; but Nationalist Governments will do everything possible to encourage migration. Although the States welcome the co-operation of the Commonwealth, they will not submit to its dictation. They wish to carry out their own schemes in their own way, with their own machinery. I would not support the bill if the commission had power to deal only with migration, but as it will have authority to encourage the development of the resources of the Commonwealth, to investigate the means of developing industry, whether primary or secondary, and the possibility of establishing new industries, I shall support it. It will be the duty of the commission to survey the economic position and the economic possibilities of Australia, and in doing so, it will doubtless co-operate with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. That is being done in America by the Department of Commerce, the chief executive officer of which is Mr. Hoover, a mining and metallurgical expert, as also is Mr. Gepp, who, I understand is likely to be appointed chairman of the commission. Mr. Gepp is a man of great ability, not only in his own particular sphere of science; he also possesses great organizing ability and business capacity. His appointment would be a guarantee of success if he could be assured- of the cooperation of the governments of the Commonwealth and the States. Without their co-operation, Mr. Gepp, with all his ability and experience, would be practically helpless. I hope the time is not far distant when all the States will be blest with governments broad-minded and far-seeing enough to realize the vital, importance of adopting some satisfactory scheme of migration, and when the appalling apathy of the people of Australia generally regarding migration will be a thing of the past. In launching a sound scheme of migration, we shall be doing our duty to ourselves and to those who follow us by populating our country and developing its resources; we shall be assisting the Old Country materially in her time of trouble, and last, but not least, we shall be strengthening, not only the sentimental ties which bind us to our kinsmen overseas, but also, and that in no small measure, the very foundations of Empire unity. I support the second reading.







Suggest corrections